The Chinese Type 69 Tank (aka WZ-121) is a modified Type 59 Tank incorporating some technology from the Russian T-62 Tank. The vehicles development ran roughly at the same time as the upgrades of the Type 59 were being developed and implemented, so by the time the Type 69 was completed it offered no significant advantage to the PLA in firepower or protection and was not adopted.
The main production variant was the Type 69-II. It offered some limited advantages over the Type 59 and thank s to its low price tag was well exported, notably to Iraq.
During the 1980’s further upgrades were made resulting in the Type 69-III. This entered Chinese PLA service (Peoples Liberation Army) under the designation Type 79 in the 1980’s.
Type 69 Tank Development
During a border clash with Russia, China was able to capture a Russian T-62 Medium Tank in 1969. The T-62 was technically superior to the Type 59. The T-62 was reverse engineered and some of its technology incorporated into a modified Type 59.
The first Type 69 Tank prototype was equipped with a stabilized 100mm smoothbore main gun. It also featured a laser range finder, IR lamp and a 580hp diesel engine. It’s design was considered to be obsolete in comparison to Western/NATO tanks.
The second Type 69 Tank prototype was the Type 69-I. This had a replacement 100mm rifled main gun as the smoothbore was not satisfactory. Neither prototypes entered PLA service or production.
Type 69-II Tank
The Type 69-II was a further improved model of the Type 69-I for the export market and entered production in 1982. It had a new Type 889 radio, rubber track skirt, new fire control system which incorporated a TSFC 2 axis gun stabilization system for the main gun, Type 70 gunner sight, TLRLA Laser rangefinder and BCLA Ballistic computer. It was also equipped with smoke grenade dischargers.
The later production models were equipped with sections of storage rack that ran around the turret. It is not clear if this was strong enough to act as bar armor against RPG attacks. Anything stored in the racks would have assisted HEAT ammunition penetrate the turret.
The Type 69 has a 12.7mm Machine Gun mounted on the Loaders hatch with 500 rounds stored and a 7.62mm coaxial machine gun with 3000 rounds stored.
The Type 69-II is constructed of steel. The front steel armor on the turret is 202mm thick and 100mm on the front sloping armor of the hull. Wheels and tracks are protected by rubber hull skirts. It also has a standard NBC system.
The vehicle has a standard four man crew. The drive sits in the front left of hull with ammunition storage to his right.The driver’s hatch has three periscope vision blocks and the centre vision block can be removed and replaced with a low-light periscope with a 50m range.
Centrally mounted in the hull is the turret, which has a full 360 degree traverse. The Commander and Gunner sit in tandem on the left side of the hull, with the commander in an elevated position behind the Gunner. To their right is the main gun and breach located in the centre of the turret with the Loader (aka Operator) standing on the right side of the turret.
both the gunner and commander sights both have low-light night vision sights with up to 800m range.
The engine compartment is located in the rear section of the hull with, inspection hatches and air vents on the top.
The Type 69-IIB Command Tank
This was the command version and like other command vehicles it was equipped with radio systems and an auxiliary power unit and a number of antenna.
The Type 69-IIC had improved communications, with two radio’s sharing one transmitter.
Both models were for the export market. All these models were powered by a liquid cooled, turbocharged 12150L-7BW 580hp diesel engine.
Type 69-III Tank
This was an improved model incorporating Western technology. It was accepted into PLA service as the Type 79 medium Tank in low numbers. Separate page for full details
Type 69-II & Type 69-III Operators
Bangladesh – 50 delivered in 1991. Online sources claim that Bangladesh operate 235 upgraded Type 69 called the Type 69-IIG. Pictures of these tank show the headlights on the fenders, which is the quick identification marker of the Type 69, with ERA used on the Type 59D. However SIPRI registers show only the transfer of 300 Type 59D from China between 2010/15. Type 59D have ERA armor and when applied to the hull the headlights are relocated to the fenders, just like that of the Type 69-II. We believe that online sources has miss identified these Bangladesh tanks and are Type 59D.
Iran – 600 delivered between 1986/88
Iraq – 1500 delivered between 1983/87, local designation Type 69-QM. Operated in Iran-Iraq War 1980-88. Operated in the Gulf War of 1991, Iraq War 2003. Pictured in service 2005
Myanmar – 30 delivered in 1990, additional 50 delivered between 1993/95
Pakistan – 250 delivered between 1993/99, designated Type 69-IIP
Thailand – 30 delivered in 1987 and 23 in 1989
Zimbabwe – 10 delivered in 1987
Type 69-II Tank Specifications
|Main Gun||100mm, Rifled
Elevation -5 to +18
|Secondary Weapons||x1 coaxial 7.62mm MG, x1 12.7mm MG|
|Ammunition Storage||x44 100mm, x3,000 7.62mm, x500 12.7mm|
|Engine||12150L-7BW 580hp Diesel|
|Top Road Speed||50 km/h|
|Road Range||420+ km|
|Fuel Capacity||935 Litres|
|Length Gun Forward||8.58m|
||3.307m (incl side-skirts)|
|Height||2.8m (mount 12.7mm MG)|
|Weight||36,700kg aka 36.7 tonne combat|
|Active Protection Systems||No|